2010 Rotations:Which Team Has The Best?

by PaulCatalano

Rotations: Which Is The Best?
Buster Olney had a blog post recently about the best 5 rotations in the league, and while he gave some love to the Mariners, his final list ranked like this:

1. Red Sox
2. Yankees
3. White Sox
4. Angels
5. Cardinals/Phillies

I’m sorry. But how can you not put the Mariners in the top 3.

I don’t care what your rationale is: Starting out with King Felix (2.49 ERA, 179 ERA+, 217 SO), switching to the lefty Cy Young winner, Cliff Lee (3.22 ERA, 1.56 ERA in postseason), then—when he’s healthy—Eric Bedard (2.82 ERA, 90 SO in 83 IP), who they picked up for a about $1.95 and some incentives). After that you can go with Ryan Rowland-Smith (3.74 ERA, 1.138 WHIP). For the fifth spot there are a number of contedners including Ian Snell (4.20 ERA), Doug Fister (4.13 ERA) or a host of others. Whomever impresses in camp gets the last spot on the hill.

That rotation is ridiculous. Cliff Lee is your number 2 pitcher? Unheralded Rowland-Smith had a superb .239 BAA last year, and finished strong, earning a 3.49 ERA in September and October.

I know the Yankees have Sabathia, Vasquez and Burnett and the Red Sox have Beckett, Lester and Lackey. But I’d put the Marines up against either of those teams and not feel worried. The Cardinals have a fantastic starting 2, but no depth after that. And no way do the Angels have a better rotation than the Mariners.

So, I’m asking you guys, which are the top 3 rotations in the league in 2010. Write back and argue for your top 3.

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49 Responses to “2010 Rotations:Which Team Has The Best?”

  1. Cameron Says:

    I’d have to disagree with several points.

    1: You can’t trust ANYTHING Buster Olney says. In fact, you can’t trust ESPN’s baseball department in general, they’re all idiots. ESPN couldn’t even get names right during the postseason.

    2: The Angels have a FAR superior rotation than the Mariners. The thing is Bedard’s good when healthy. Chances are he won’t pick up too many incentives though, age has hit him like a ton of bricks. Rowland-Smith’s good, and great in fourth, but they really don’t have too much depth that’s good after that. It’s mediocre at best. It’s great, but…

    The Angels have penciled in as rotation the following.

    1. Jered Weaver
    -Good, but I’m not sure if he’s ready for the responsibility of being an ace in a town like LA. Still, an incredibly solid pitcher.

    2. Ervin Santana
    -A little injury prone, but absolutely electrifying when on. Kind of Bedard-esque in this case, but I’d much rather take an injury prone guy with Ervin’s fastball and age over Bedard given the age difference.

    3. Joe Saunders
    -Saunders is really good, especially when he’s on. I remember when he went shutout-against-shutout vs. Greinke and won. He’s fairly solid throughout the season as well.

    4. Scott Kazmir
    -WHY Kazmir isn’t LA’s ace is baffling IMO. A strikeout king at 22 or 23 and lights guys up. He’s also used to being an ace since that’s what he was before James Shields took it from him. Young, talented, and a guy that any rotation would love as a centerpiece.

    5. Joel Pinerio
    -A little low on the list, but given the talent in front of him, it’s understandable. Piniero’s also very solid as a pitcher, and given the defense that LA has, Joel’s sinker is gonna make him a very nice rotation piece.

    In short, Seattle has a great opening punch, but a steep dropoff after that, whereas LA is incredibly solid all around, where everyone on that roster could be a 2-3 guy on an average team, a couple guys even ace-worthy.

    Point 3: St. Louis has no depth after the THIRD spot, Brad Penny is a great pitcher and between Wainwright, Carpenter, and Penny, they’re fine most of the week.

    4. I’d be worried if I put up the Mariners against the Yankees or Red Sox because their aces are comparable to King Felix in quality, their two guys are just as good as Cliff and more reliable if they start to get lit up during a game. The reason the Phils let Lee go is because when he gets shaky, he doesn’t recover. And the three guys, again, Bedard’s a big question mark.

    And… Ah yes, the original point of this article…

    My top rotations…

    1 – Boston, with Lackey there, they’re vary, very solid. Only problem I’d have is Dice-K’s reliability and who’ll man the 5 spot. The top 3 are that damn good though.

    2 – Los Angeles, I originally had them lower, but after looking over the board, damn.

    3. – Philadelphia/Atlanta, Philadelphia’s got great opening talent and good depth, but the rotation strength kind of hinges on Hamels bouncing back yet again. Atlanta, while they lost Javy, is still VERY solid and young, meaning the arms aren’t going to be taxed too much throwing long games.

  2. Thomas B. Says:

    I’d rank it like this:

    1. Red Sox
    2. Yankees
    3. Phillies

    Honestly Paul, the Mariners have the potential for a great rotation, but it just has too many question marks, or at least a larger amount than the three I selected. Will King Felix maintain his success now that he got paid? Will Bedard stay healthy? Can Rowland-Smith build off the success that he had last year. Maybe if this was a poll of who has the best top 2 in their rotation, than the Mariners would make my top 3. But right now, I’d say they are in my top 5, just behind the 4th ranked Cardinals on my personal rankings.

  3. Jeff H. Says:

    I’m sorry but how in the world is Atlanta and San Francisco not on this list? The braves have Jair Jurjjens, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson as their top four. The Giants have the best pitcher in the game in Tim Lincecum and then Matt Cain, Johnathan Sanchez(no hitter and would be perfect game if not for an error charged to back up 3rd baseman Uribe) and then Barry Zito. Sorry but I will take either of these two teams pitching staffs over the Angels or the White Sox.

  4. Jim Says:

    Joel Pinero, Hahahahahahahah… By the all star break, he’s going to wish he stayed in the NL and more to the point, stayed close to Dave Duncan. Why isn’t Kazmir the ace? He has trouble getting past the 5th inning. He needs to do something to prove he’s not circling the drain.

  5. Raul Says:

    Redsox. Although it remains to be seen how Lackey will do facing the AL East more often.

    Yankees. It will be interesting how Vazquez performs. He’ll need to hit his spots and be aggressive with his fastball because if hitters are able to sit on his change-up, he’s going to be in trouble. Burnett also needs to be healthy and learn to avoid the walks.

    It’s hard for me to pick a 3rd team. I’d like to say the Cardinals because with Wainwright and Carpenter, they have two guys that can win the Cy Young.

    The White Sox have Buehrle and Peavy, but Gavin Floyd and John Danks don’t inspire me too much. I guess Floyd would be the 3rd guy.

    While not one of the best rotations, I think in a few years the Detroit Tigers could have something with Verlander, Porcello and Scherzer.

  6. Chuck Says:

    Webb, Haren, Jackson and Kennedy??

    Buster Olney’s a tool.

  7. James Kunz Says:

    My Cardinals have a lethal top 2 and the best rotation in their division, but not anywhere near the top 5.

    Cameron: the rotation you lay out doesn’t impress me. I’ll take the Mariners over the Angels any day.

  8. brautigan Says:

    Has Jered Weaver learned to get any left handers out? (I’m asking this without consulting my 2010 Bill James Handbook)

    And while I like Joe Saunders alot (he is a really nice guy), I do not consider him a top starting pitcher. His win totals are more impressive than any other numbers he has put up the past two seasons.

    I too would take the M’s over the Angels this next upcoming season.

  9. Jeff Says:

    Bedard is recovering from shoulder surgery and will be out at least two months. He’s as big a question mark as anyone in baseball.

    Rowland-Smith was ok, but he had a .262 BABIP. That’s not sustainable. He should regress.

    I would take any of Olney’s.

  10. Cameron Says:

    Eh, while I admit while LAA’s pitching isn’t exactly eye-popping by any one individual, I like them as a whole given the average performances out of all of them. It’s got one key thing you look for in a rotation, reliability.

    And Olney still sucks.

    PS: First right guess to where I got the joke I posted about the new commissioner idea in the Bud Selig thread gets a cookie.

  11. Cameron Says:

    And I can’t believe I forgot Arizona, they’re looking to be good pitching-wise too.

  12. Brandon Says:

    What about Tampa? If Garza, Shields, and Niemann keep it up or improve as they should with age/experience, and either Price or Davis jump forward like they have the potential to, theyre definitely top 3 material.

    You could say they’re mostly potential, but isn’t that what the 2010 season (aka the future) is?

    Yankees: CC, AJ, Pettite, Vazquez, Hughes/Chamberlain
    Red Sox: Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Dice-K, Buchholz, Wakefield, minors…

    I’m not gonna bother who’s 1 or who’s 2 or who’s 3 cuz its a crapshoot anyways if you’re that high ranked.

  13. Raul Says:

    I suggested Mountain Landis already.

  14. Chuck Says:

    Ian Snell’s a good example for Shaun and his argument about talent vs. working hard.

    He has top 20 talent and stuff, but he’s a f*cking head case.

  15. Cameron Says:

    Ah, didn’t notice. My bad Raul.

    …And you don’t get the cookie because it’s not where I got the joke. You get a metacookie for my oversight though.

  16. Alex S Says:

    Poor Mets.

    Perez and Maine were such teases back in ‘06 and ‘07. They both pitched close to 200 innings, but they both went from below a 4.00 ERA in 2006 to a 4+ ERA in ‘07, and then they both got injured. Pelfrey joined the fun, pitching 200 innings with a 3.72 ERA in ‘08, but fell back above a 5.00 ERA in ‘09. However, if those three are as healthy as reports indicate, then thats 500 innings of sub-4.00 ERA baseball the Mets can rely on. Throw in Johan Santana and newly-acquired Hisanori Takahashi and the Mets might actually have a chance.

    Although, I would keep Nelson Figueroa’s phone number on speed dial, just in case.

  17. brothafromanotha Says:

    I agree with the “ESPN tool assessment’ but Buster’s got it right. It’s 1A and 1B between Red Sox and Yanks. I give the edge to the Yanks because of the totality of work from April to November last year. You cannot downplay the importance of CC as a true ace-a 250 inning workhorse from yesteryear. Or conversely, Vasquez and AJ not having to be the ace. On this staff, there a #1 (CC), 3 #2 (Pettite,AJ,Vasquez) and one #4 (Joba or Hughes). With four guys that can at least throw 190 innings, it places less stress on a already sterling bullpe lead by Mo. Pen CC in for 20, AJ and Pettitte for fourteen a piece and I wouldn’t be surprised if Vasquez hits 15-17 even with how his stuff translates in the AL. The 5th spot, because of off-days, pop for 11-13 easy.

  18. brautigan Says:

    I had always thought Ian Oquendo had dropped off the face of the earth. It wasn’t until last year that I discovered he was really Ian Snell.

    Chuck: it makes me wonder what Johnny Sain could do for someone with the potential like Ian Oquendo Snell?

  19. Chuck Says:

    “Although, I would keep Nelson Figueroa’s phone number on speed dial, just in case.”

    The second greatest pitcher you never heard of, behind Jimmy Scott.

  20. Chuck Says:


    I think Snell was just frustrated with the situation in Pittsburgh. I will never accept a player quitting on his team for any reason, but I kind of see where he was coming from..he was frustrated with ownership treating a MLB franchise like a Mom and Pop.

    He’s as far from Pittsburgh now as one can get, both in mileage and in quality of talent. He’s arguably the #3 starter behind a Cy Young winner and, IMO, the only active pitcher with a shot at 300 wins.

    Snell is easily, at least on talent, the best three hole guy in baseball. And if he can’t learn anything from Felix and C-Lee, then he really needs a couple of sessions with Dr. Phil.

  21. Hossrex Says:

    In the same way that I don’t think Jeter, Matsui, or Damon were as good as they appeared, I think the Yankee pitching staff was actually much better than the statistical analysis would indicate.

  22. Rick L. Says:

    Nothing for the Orioles rotation of Millwood, Guthrie, Bergesen, Matusz, and Tillman? I guess they have to prove themselves first.

  23. Raul Says:

    You kinda thought good things might happen in Pittsburgh if Snell and Gorzelanny could ever figure it out…guess not.

  24. Hossrex Says:

    What team wouldn’t be good if two of their starting pitchers “figured it out”?

  25. Raul Says:

    The Kansas City Royals.

  26. Chuck Says:

    The Royals are turning Kyle Farnsworth into a starter.

  27. Cameron Says:

    Given our rotation mix comprises

    Greinke (Awesome)
    Meche (Solid, but pretty mediocre)
    Bannister (Potential that will never be fulfilled)
    Hochevar (See above)
    Davies (See above)
    Tejeda (Bad)
    Farnsworth (Improving, and glad to have out of the bullpen)

    Any way you slice it, we’re screwed in the rotation. Bullpen’s not much better. Only proven guys there are Soria and Cruz.

    All in all, we’re boned. …Same time, we look more promising than Cleveland.

  28. Chuck Says:

    Al Leiter had this fascinating segment on MLB Network yesterday.

    He was talking about how bad Stephen Strasburg’s arm mechanics are, and super-imposed him over Mark Prior’s delivery and they looked exactly the same.

    Leiter said Strasburg’s arm speed is too much and not reliant on his body like it should be, and that he’s going to get hurt, like Prior, if he doesn’t make changes.

    Of course, you guys all knew that already.

    You’re welcome.

  29. brautigan Says:

    LOL @ Cameron: Gil Meche, solidly mediocre.

    You know, I’ve been following Meche since he was in A ball. I always have wondered how good he would have been without the myriad of injuries he has had. Of course, you can say the same thing of about 100 other pitchers………but I think Meche would have been an elite pitcher without all the set backs.

  30. Jeff Says:

    Yeah, Tampa’s rotation could be sick very soon. Same with Baltimore and Oakland to a lesser extent.

  31. Cameron Says:

    Thanks braut, a lot of here in KC actually love Gil Meche, and a doctor I used to go to lives across the street from him. Great guy. But yeah, his injury bug is kind of a problem. Given he’s not under as much pressure, maybe he’ll perform a little better now the spotlight’s not on him.

    But KC’s suffering a problem that quite a few teams have. Management’s gotten so incompetent, a complete gutting of the front office and deadweight talent is needed. You know an ACTUAL rebuilding phase. Of course, with Moore under contract til ‘14 and the Glass Family instead of just David owning the team, we’re…

    Well, about a decade of losing seasons away from being Pittsburgh.

  32. Raul Says:

    You’re the General Manager of the Washington Nationals.

    Brian Cashman calls and offers you Jesus Montero straight up for Stephen Strasburg.

    What do you do?

  33. Hossrex Says:

    Bah… after a certain point, you just have to ride your horse. Unless something a good deal more compelling came along, I’d keep Strasburg.

  34. Chuck Says:

    If I was the GM of the Washington Nationals, I wouldn’t trade Chien Ming Wang for Jesus Montero.

  35. Cameron Says:

    If I was the GM of the Washington Nationals, I’d gather a group of potential investors to see who would be interested in a town that has a rich heritage of baseball, an active and proud fanbase, and potential. Show them profits that they could rack up by having a team that’s good on the field (granted the profits would be speculative, but a reasonable figure with a similar team would be good. Balitmore has a close market in a similar situation and they’re actually rebuilding correctly.) and see if I can’t get some more money into the team to try and make them more competitive, granted I’d probably have to give said owners part-ownership as an agreement. Considering how time-consuming a major league team is, though they’d likely be silent partners.

    Then, see if you can drop higher-priced players who aren’t producing and see if you can’t try and go from the ground up there. It worked for the Reds when they won the World Series with new ownership, low payroll, and one or two regulars age 30 or older.

    …Granted I’m not a flaming racist like Marge Schott, so maybe my plan wouldn’t work.

  36. Knoledge Whizdom Says:

    Kyle Farnsworth as a starter? can we pencil him the most hrs in the league until he blows his arm out ? or would that be a poor asumption. The arguement of who has the best rotation is fascinatingly irrevelant having the best rotation on paper has never won anyone anything the better arguement would be who has the best chance of keeping 5 starters healthy for the entire season that almost gurantees a world series appearance.

  37. Raul Says:

    Knoledge Whizdom:

    “The arguement of who has the best rotation is fascinatingly irrevelant having the best rotation on paper has never won anyone anything the better arguement would be who has the best chance of keeping 5 starters healthy for the entire season that almost gurantees a world series appearance.”

    You are the winner for the most misspellings in a run-on sentence in 2010.
    Congratulations, friend.

  38. Hossrex Says:

    Knoledge Whizdom

    Do you think that’s how he thinks “knowledge” is spelled?

    If so… it’s perhaps the most ironic screen name of all time.

  39. Knoledge Whizdom Says:

    as you can tell by the screen name spelling is not something i’ve ever cared for and neither is punctuation i’ll do a better job of using the language we all agreed upon in future posts still cant argue that keep pitchers healthy equates sucess

  40. Cardsguy1 Says:

    I’ll take our Cardinal rotation and our pitching coach over most any team in baseball. We have two pitchers who SHOULD have won the Cy Young but got screwed by some left coast, never-played-baseball, bleeding heart liberal who only likes “things” from San Francisco, in Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainright. We also have Kyle Lohse and Brad Penny as 3 and 4 starters and a fifth starter to be named. It’s easily the best in the National League and as far as the American League goes, its immaterial. We don’t have to worry about them until the World Series and a few games during the year(hear come the Royals again!!!). Dave Duncan is the very best pitching coach in all of baseball and may be the best of all time. I believe that only Atlanta’s pitching coach, Leo Mazzone, during the heyday of Braves baseball may have been Dunc’s equal.

  41. Cardsguy1 Says:

    By the way Raul, argument is not spelled with an “e”.

  42. Patrick Says:

    I just read a book with virtually no punctuation or paragraphs, “The Road”. Decent book though, if you’re a fan of the end of the world scenario.

    I think the 3 best starting rotations are in the AL East, with Tampa 3rd. I hate it, but Lester is about to be a top 5 pitcher, maybe CY Young. When Dice K is your 4th best starter, you have a pretty good rotation.

    The Angels will be good also and Kazmir will do well under Scoscia. He needs to pound the strike zone more and Scoscia will be successful in getting him there. That was a real bad trade for the Rays but they’re trying to save money, as usual.

    Honorable mentions; Cardinals, Arizona, Philly and SF.

    Tillman and Matusz could make the O’s a .500 team but I still think they’re a year or 2 away from being above average. I think Millwood will have an ERA over 5.00 in the AL East. A lot of analysts liked that signing but I hated it.

    I just read where Tampa expects to have a payroll around $60M next year so I guess Carl Crawford will probably be signing with the Yankees. Gardner gets one year to prove himself to hold off that scenario.

  43. Patrick Says:

    I see an “e” in argument, though I’m thinking that Raul copied and pasted Knoledge’s quote. Plus, if you’re going to be the spelling police, you should probably make sure you write “here” instead of “hear”, but now I’m being a dick. :-)

  44. Richard Says:

    Two things amaze me about these posts:

    1. Someone actually tried to make an argument for the KC Royals having one of the top rotations in baseball while acknowledging that Kyle Farnsworth may be a part of it.
    2. VERY little love for Atl or SF, which has a MUCH better rotation than Philadelphia, LAA, or St. Louis, withu Lincecum-Cain-Sanchez-Zito-Bumgarner (kudos to Jeff H.) ranking above Hudson-Jurjens-Hanson-Lowe-KK.
    3. Jesus Montero for Strasburg? Really? I guess that’s better than offering Brett Gardner and Randy Winn for Ryan Braun.
    4. My top 5:

    1. Boston – As a Yankee fan, it pains me to say it, but potentially the best, with a caveat: Beckett can be scary, Lackey has been inconsistent, and Dice-K is a question mark. Bucholz as a 5th, with Wakefield as insurance? Nice job, Theo.

    2. Yankees – C.C. should be better his 2nd year in New York, and Pettitte is a solid number 4, but I’m scared about the skittish arm of Burnett and the skittish make-up of Vazquez in NY and Joba for a full season. If everything works out as planned with the rotation, and the planets are aligned, this team could win 110…and worst-case scenario 91 wins and third place.

    3. SF – See above.

    4. St. Louis – Carpenter-Wainright-Penny-Lohse-and…uh…ok, Mitchell Boggs probably isn’t ready, and they are thinking about Kyle McLellan in the rotation. Oh, and Carpenter is due for an injury, Penny is fragile, and Lohse is coming off an injury, but Duncan made Piniero a prized free agent, and he can work wonders with this staff too.

    5. Seattle – Can’t argue with King Felix and Prince Cliff. I like Smith’s make-up, and Bedard can be stellar when healthy.

    Honorable Mention

    Atl, LAA, Phil

  45. Richard Says:

    uh, i mean 3 things

  46. Matt Says:

    At the moment I would say:

    Red Sox
    White Sox

    Aside from the fact I would never put a national league team on any list like this ever, Phillie and the Cardinals do not have the depth necessary to make this list. All of these teams have at least two or three potential 5th starters.

  47. Raul Says:

    Bumgarner has proven nothing.
    Sanchez is basically Oliver Perez
    And Barry Zito?

    You must be out of your mind.

  48. Raul Says:

    The Montero trade was hypothetical.

    And at the very least, Montero has actually proven to be a decent/good hitter in the minor leagues.

    Stephen Strasburg has proven nothing…but we’ll see what happens this year.

    And since that hypothetical trade seemed so ridiculous, maybe you guys can chime in on that Sabathia for LaPorta deal.

  49. Richard Says:

    Matt LaPorta was a piece, albeit the key piece, in a four-for-one deal that included 2 other top prospects, and a throw-in former top prospect in Zach Jackson, for what amounted to be a two-month rental of C.C. that did push the Brewers to the playoffs, but it remains to be seen if LaPorta, Brantley, or Bryson turn into anything. The hypothetical trade Strasburg for Montero is a purely prospect trade, completely different from the C.C. trade, with the upside of Strasburg significantly higher than that of Montero. I like Montero, and I don’t want Strasburg, but the Nationals have hitched their wagon to Strasburg with the huge signing bonus. I actually like Drew Storen, picked later in the first round, better than Strasburg in the long run. But Strasburg could be another Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, or Sandy Koufax, or he could be another Steve Blass, Bill Pulsipher, or Mark Prior…you just can’t give away that potential for a guy that projects to be an average catcher, or even for the next Jorge Posada.

    On the other comment, big contract aside, over the last season and a half, Barry Zito has proven to be at least a very good 4th starter; Sanchez has great stuff, as does Oliver Perez, but the SF coaching staff has done a better job than the Mets or Pirates staff of coralling that stuff so that Sanchez has become a hot commodity when the Giants talk trade, culminating in a no-hitter and near-perfect game last season. And Madison Bumgarner has crazy minor league numbers, and projects as a top-of-the-rotation guy, just not on a staff with Lincecum and Cain, thus the reason SF belongs on the list. You had Detroit on the list, with two guys that MIGHT turn out ace-wise in Porcello and Scherzer…I just think that Bumgarner is better than either of them, though Porcello can really bring it. And Bumgarner is projected as a FIFTH starter.

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